Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Bale shines in Ancelotti’s counter-attacking 4-4-2

April 17, 2014
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Bale shines in Ancelotti’s counter-attacking 4-4-2

Gareth Bale scored a sublime late winner to win the Copa del Rey.

Carlo Ancelotti was without Cristiano Ronaldo, which meant Isco coming into the side. He also used Iker Casillas, his cup goalkeeper.

Tata Martino returned to the system he favoured in the Champions League matches against Atletico, with Andres Iniesta on the left and Cesc Fabregas in midfield. Neymar was given another chance.

Real played an extremely reactive, counter-attacking system, and were forced to withstand long periods of pressure – but they created better chances on the break. Read more »

Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City: Liverpool start superbly, City respond after the break

April 14, 2014
Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City: Liverpool start superbly, City respond after the break

Philippe Coutinho’s late goal handed Liverpool a crucial victory in a superb match.

Brendan Rodgers named his expected XI, which meant Joe Allen – often an option in big games – only on the bench.

Manuel Pellegrini played Gael Clichy ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov because of his his defensive discipline, and decided Sergio Aguero wasn’t fit enough to start the game, so continued with a 4-2-3-1 and Edin Dzeko upfront alone.

This was the classic game of two halves – Liverpool were dominant in the first period, Manchester City were superior after the break. Read more »

Atletico 1-0 Barcelona: Gabi v Busquets, and pressing the opposition keeper?

April 11, 2014
Atletico 1-0 Barcelona: Gabi v Busquets, and pressing the opposition keeper?

At the fifth time of asking this season, a contest between these two finally produced a winner – Atletico deservedly progressing to the semi-finals.

Diego Simeone was without two key players. Diego Costa hadn’t recovered from limping off in the first leg, and Arda Turan was also out. This meant Adrian Lopez played upfront and Raul Garcia played on the right of midfield.

Tata Martino continued with Cesc Fabregas and Neymar in the side, while Marc Bartra started as Gerard Pique was absent.

Atletico should have had the game wrapped up inside the first half, creating a number of great opportunities and hitting the woodwork three times. Read more »